Sync or Swarm

Sync or Swarm : Improvising Music in a Complex Age

3.43 (16 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$39.96

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


"Sync or Swarm" provides a fascinating study of musical improvisation, using theories from cultural and cognitive studies and the emerging sciences. Musical improvisation hinges on one's ability to synchronize intention and action and to maintain a keen awareness of, sensitivity to, and connection with the evolving group dynamics and experiences. The most successful improvisations are those in which the musicians are able to synchronize, not necessarily their sounds - although this too can miraculously happen - but their intentions or their moments of inspiration. And even during the most complex and dense passages of collective improvisation, a swarm-like quality can emerge in which individual parts are moving in very different directions and yet the musical whole moves with a collective purpose. David Borgo presents a systemic view of improvisation, with individual chapters funneling outward in scope: from the perspective of a solo improviser (English saxophonist Evan Parker), to that of a group interacting in performance, to the long-term dynamics of an improvising group from formation to dissolution, and finally regarding the network dynamics that bind together improvisers and groups into an aesthetic community. Each of these chapters is paired with a different aspect of the emerging sciences - including perspectives from cognitive science, biology, chaos and complexity theories, and the study of social networks - in order to offer new ways of engaging with and shaping the discourses that surround music in general and improvisation in more

Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 154.9 x 231.1 x 27.9mm | 498.96g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0826417299
  • 9780826417299
  • 1,382,527

Review quote

"Getting excited while you are READING about MUSIC may be common to ethno-musicologists. But for me (a cognitive and computer scientist), music generally lives in one part of my brain while scientific/academic work lives in another. David Borgo's Sync or Swarm successfully lights up both sides of my brain!"- Richard K. Belew, Professor and Chair, Cognitive Science Department, University of California, San Diego "I am pleased to have had my work subjected to such rigorous scrutiny and I appreciate all the thinking David Borgo has done in an area where it is almost impossible to make any single uncontested statement!" - Evan Parker, saxophonist/improviser/composer "a provocative, gutsy, and potentially revolutionary attempt to apply chaos theory, fractal plotting, sociological Actor-Network Theory, the concept of swarm intelligence, and other analytical templates to improvised music. Wow!"- "The Stranger, "March 2006 "Integrating a broad range of interdisciplinary considerations - from complex systems and sociological theories to cognition and consciousness - saxophonist/composer/scholar David Borgo's Sync or Swarm makes important contributions to the expanding dialogue about contemporary improvised music." -Ed Sarath, Professor of Music and Chair, Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation; Director, Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor "Worth noting by British readers is the amount of space devoted to Evan, including some new quotations."--Sanford Lakoff "David Borgo's "Sync or Swarm", a provocative, gutsy, and potentially revolutionary attempt to apply chaos theory, fractal plotting, sociological Actor-Network Theory, the concept of swarm intelligence, and other analytical templates to improvised music, wow!"- Christopher Delaurenti, "The Stranger", March 2- March 8, 2006--Sanford Lakoff "Borgo is familiar with a wide range of the recent literature on complexity, chaos, embodiment, etc. and he's done a creative job of bringing that into his main topic: free-jazz group improvisation." -R. Keith Sawyer, Associate Professor of Education, Washington University; author of "Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation" "Not only is this an important book for specialists working in areas of both contemporary music and contemporary science, but it also offers absorbing reading to improvising musicians, their listeners, and the growing cadre of smart, engaged folks fascinated by the human implications of 'complex' music, chaos theory, and other once-foreboding realms." -David Ake, Associate Professor of Music, University of Nevada, Reno; author of "Jazz Cultures"show more

About David Borgo

David Borgo is Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at the University of California, San Diego. He has released two CDs as saxophonist and composer (With and Against and Massanetta Springs), and plays live shows regularly in Los Angeles and at jazz festivals around the more

Table of contents

Preface; 1. The Sounds and Science of Surprise; The Age of Complexity; Sync or Swarm; 2. Reverence for Uncertainty; Exploring Uncertainty; Performing Uncertainty; Experiencing Uncertainty; Documenting Uncertainty; Evaluating Uncertainty; 3. The Embodied Mind (of Evan Parker); Taking the Note for a Walk; The Body in the Music; It's a Bit Like Juggling; Process and Reality; 4. Rivers of Consciousness: The Nonlinear Dynamics and Emergent Qualities of Improvised Music; Complexity and Emergence; The Phase Space of Improvisation; A Dynamical Systems Model of Improvised Music; Hues of Melanin; Some Final Remarks; 5. The Edge of Chaos: Envisioning Group Improvisation as a Self-Organizing System; Fractal Worlds; Musical Chaotics; The Dynamics of Self-Organizing Systems; Do You Hear What I Hear?; Some Final Remarks; 6. Sync or Swarm: The Life(time) of an Improvising Ensemble; 7. Improvising Music: Some Thoughts on Network Dynamics and Musical Studies; 8. Harnessing Complexity: Situated Learning and the Pedagogy of Play; more

Rating details

16 ratings
3.43 out of 5 stars
5 6% (1)
4 44% (7)
3 38% (6)
2 12% (2)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X